Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.

Since my return to being the Product Manager of Object Desktop and the programs that make it up in October, one of my jobs has been to re-evaluate where skinning is today and try to take the products in the direction I think skinning is going.

Object Desktop 2010, launched this month, is the result of some of this thinking – at least, as much as we could do in a couple of months.

My mantra for skinning has basically been: Make it useful, target power users.  I’m not interested in making software for grandma or pointless cosmetics which is the direction Object Desktop took in my view for the past few years.

Let me give you an example of the problem with skinning in a Windows 7 world.

Paint.net with plain Aero:

Pros: Perfect compatibility, visually pleasing.

Cons: It’s just AERO, like everyone else.

Next:

Paint.net with WindowBlinds 7 running a UIS 2 skin (Sublime):

Pros: Looks cool, very customizeable.

Cons: Cosmetic glitches can mar functional compatibility.

 

Next: WindowBlinds 7 running a UIS 0 skin (Aero Clay black)

Pros: Perfect compatibility, customizeable Aero.

Cons: Still basically Aero.

 

Next: WindowBlinds 7 with a UIS 0 Hybrid skin (Corporate Aero)

Pros: Perfect compatibility, skinned controls and client area, customzeable Aero

Cons: Aero frames limits how much skinning you can do.

Probably the single biggest change that I see coming to skinning is its return to the realm of power users. That means, if it’s a cosmetic only change then it better be 100% compatible and have no downsides. 

Power users might sacrifice something if it increases their productivity or looks significantly better but in the age of Aero, I have yet to see a skin that looks so good that I’d be willing to give up one iota of compatibility and I suspect I’m not alone.

That’s why UIS 0 is so important and moving forward why UIS 0 Hybrid is so important. 

UIS 2 skins, the ones that let skinners go wild, will continue to evolve to be better and better but there will always be apps that do different things that acan’t be predicted.

The upcoming public release of SkinStudio 7 will be crucial because it’ll include easy ways of making UIS 0 skins. I wouldn’t mind there being a SkinStudio 7 Starter Edition that just does UIS 0 to simplify things for new skinners.


Comments (Page 1)
on Dec 13, 2009

Does this explain why I have a error once in a while with Office Outlook 2007 for the VBA plugin? Which I use the Corporate skin with colours, textures, transparency and explorer background. Kind of figure it was or is a conflict with another plugin I have in Outlook. With 2010 Office techincal preview; there where a few issues with WB7 beta. Now that there is the 2010 beta Office and full release of Windowblinds 7; I've yet to give this another try. I did not like some of how Office worked with my sms forwarding for my cel phone. [ Outlook ] That and how Business contact manager was arranged for the 2010. I believe all this will change.

Anyway back to subject line; I'm presently waiting for a new Dell Vostros 1720 laptop with Windows 7 Enterprise. This will be a complete production computer for work. The which I would consider installing WB7 and Corporate. But I'm using this with XP mode also with a very large SQL server data base program. Is this going to be a problem Brad? If so it aint no big deal. But the guys at the office would get a real kick out of what Stardock can do and/or is doing with Windows.

Oh and buy the way. I do see your point in the UIS design. One other question; "How is this going to effect the past skins being used or remade for UIS 0?"

Great work you people do there. Really do appreciate all of this.

on Dec 13, 2009

While this is all very nice for 'Powerusers' which I'm not sure I really agree are the mainstay of WB users, what are the plans going for UIS2 going forward? You mentioned a couple of buggy areas, there are quite a few more in 7, Exactly how much attn. is UIS2 going to get? I'm positive more people are interested in that than Aero looking skins with textures. Lets face it, how long is any one person (customizer) going to want to use Aero or a derivitive of..it.

Extra buttons are nice to be able to add to a skin, I don't think personally I could ever see a reason for anything except a rollup but that just me.. IMO, more people want non-Aero looking skins, that are also well designed (UIS2)... that do not mar functionality than extra functionality in the titlebar.

Are you saying that will never happen? Is there going to be an effort to perfect UIS2 in 7 or are you moving completely away from it.

I know we may disagree regarding WB's direction, I am just looking for an honest , realistic answer, it would be appreciated.

on Dec 13, 2009

I'm with V on this one. I was going to write a long post about what I thought, but he beat me to it (and said it better than I would have).

target power users
A definition of what you call a power user would be nice too.

on Dec 13, 2009

i would hate to think that every skin from now on is going to be nothing but aero clones, i thought skinstudio was made so we can make our own stuff to our own tastes, ect, out of the box ect.

i got no idea what a power user is either.

can you also please explain UIS 0 AND UIS hybrid. i never heard of them before reading this post.

on Dec 13, 2009

UIS2 and UIS1 are going nowhere and will continue to get updates.

UIS0 is in addition to the other formats not a replacement.

on Dec 13, 2009

Like Neil said, UIS2 and UIS1 will continue to evolve and get better.

UIS 0 is a new format introduced in WindowBlinds 7.

UIS 2 will never be perfect as long as there are software developers who ignore user interface standards and insist on making assumptions.  But we will continue to improve on it.

It all really depends on your priorities as a skinner.

 

on Dec 13, 2009

can you also please explain UIS 0 AND UIS hybrid. i never heard of them before reading this post.

Hi...well I dont know that much about it but what I do know is that these skins are limited to the Aero shapes and styles in many areas but with the ability to add textures to the frames, startmenus and taskbar.  Also they are not compatible with Winodws XP. Hope this helps in some way...

on Dec 13, 2009

Thanks Brad and Neil.

I realize it will never be perfect, good to know its going to continue to be improved.

on Dec 13, 2009

sorry, double post

on Dec 13, 2009

I wouldn’t mind there being a SkinStudio 7 Starter Edition that just does UIS 0 to simplify things for new skinners.

Make it so, Number 1!  

 

And I agree that a bunch of Aero clones is getting real old really fast. I have yet to finish my first blind, but I am an avid user of windowblinds and I love all the ways it beautifies your desktop.

on Dec 13, 2009

ahh.. thanks butch

on Dec 14, 2009
Speaking for us Grandmothers who love cosmetic effects, I think you are headed in entirely the wrong direction. What you are describing bores me to tears.
on Dec 14, 2009

I don't see how UIS 0 hybrid is the best of both worlds...it looks to me like it's got the faults of both -- it glitches like eye candy, and it's boring like Aero.  That old saying is true....nobody wins in a compromise.

on Dec 14, 2009
It is true you are walking a tightrope now. I think XP was so ugly that skinning exploded but now that Aero overall is very usual, people are less likely to want to skin. I know I find myself changing skins far less than I used to do it. I'm not a big fan of the mild Aero makeover, you can do that with Win7 natively. I know it isn't as fancy as WB7, but for many its enough. I want interfaces that shine, but take things to a different direction. I think the Hybrid is a viable solution, more than the regular UIS0. Gotta face it, the days of skinning Windows with WB is not as needed anymore, unless you increase functionality somehow. Not necessarily more buttons, but the ability to do more as well as have it look nice.
on Dec 14, 2009

Gotta face it, the days of skinning Windows with WB is not as needed anymore

 

Actually, it was never NEEDED per se, it was for the fun of it. Who would prefer a flat, gray browser when they could have a dragon spewing fire instead? Or stained glass? Or whatever your tastes dictate. When you stare at a computer screen for hours it's a relief to change the view!

Frankly, except for Fences, which I'm totally hooked on for functionality, I could live without any of the many Stardock apps I use. But I don't WANT to, because they're FUN!

 

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